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Although the Lakeland men's volleyball team started out the day with a loss at their second Midwest 10 Tournament of the season, dropping a 2-1 decision to Notre Dame (18-25, 25-21, 13-15), it was able to rally throughout the course of the day in order to make the finals of the tournament. However, the Muskies (26-5) have still been unable to find a way to defeat UW-Oshkosh, ranking No. 1 in the nation, as they fell to them in the finals, 2-0 (21-25, 15-25). The Titans are responsible for all but two of the squad's five match losses this season.
"It is hard to evaluate how I feel about the weekend," said head coach Chad Schreiber. "We've done everything we can do right now except win championships. I challenged the team to get better this weekend and put some early season mistakes behind us. That did not happen in the matches that mattered. We blew out teams we had a mismatch against, and struggled against teams similar in ability."
After the loss to Notre Dame, the squad battled back to win four straight matches before falling to Oshkosh, defeating Ball State and Northern Illinois University in the remainder of pool play matches. In the playoffs the Muskies took out UW-Milwaukee in the first round, then had the opportunity for a re-match with Notre Dame in the semifinals.
In Lakeland's loss to Notre Dame, sophomore outside hitter Joe Julkowski played a solid match on offensive and defense with nine kills, 12 digs and two blocks.
Despite starting out the day on a rough note, the squad recovered to demolish Ball State, 2-0 (25-15, 25-9), then defeated Northern, 2-0 (25-23, 25-14). Senior outside hitter Matt Martin led the charge against Ball State with nine kills and three digs while Julkowski had four kills, four digs and three service aces. Against Northern, junior middle hitter Jared Rohland was the go-to guy, finishing with nine kills, one ace and one block, while senior Adam Plach knocked down seven kills and tallied five assists as a middle hitter.
The Muskies continued their offensive strength into the playoffs, as Martin and Julkowski teamed up to tally eight and six kills, respectively, helping the team cruise to a 2-0 win over UW-Milwaukee (25-13, 25-14).
Julkowski continued to produce in the Muskies' second meeting of the day with Notre Dame, helping his team garner revenge against the Fighting Irish with 11 kills, six digs and two blocks for the 2-1 (25-19, 19-25, 15-13) advantage. Rohland was also solid with a tournament team-high 12 kills and three blocks, and also led the team on offense with five kills in the squad's disappointing loss to UW-Oshkosh, 2-0 (21-25, 15-25) in the finals.
"It takes a team full of players playing well or a couple of players to carry you if you want to win at the highest level," Schreiber said. "Today it was a line-up full of guys playing their average game. I'm going to have to look at how I'm preparing them and see what we can change up because I believe we have the talent and I know they want to win."
Lakeland will have one more crack at UW-Oshkosh in their final regular season Wisconsin Volleyball Conference game on Thursday, Mar. 29, at Oshkosh. But first, the Muskies will resume WVC action at UW-Stevens Point on Monday, Mar. 26. Match time is set for 8 p.m. in Stevens Point, Wis.